The European Union, guided by France and Germany, has its hand in Italy’s political crisis, says Peter Divey.
The Italian President clearly vetoed the proposed choice of Finance Minister at the behest of Germany and France and as a whole the EU gave a sigh of relief. The courage of the decision was lauded by Macron personally. The outrage was anticipated and the EU braced for the gusts, Juncker and Tusk wheeled out empty pre-prepared words. Italian democracy counts, the voters matter they said, even as vox populi was set aside. The storm will pass, it always has before in the EU playbook of action. If the populists had agreed to a switch of Minister the President would have engineered the collapse of the coalition by other means. This Government was never going to be permitted.
The seed of outrage was deliberately planted. The EU now expect Italian Populism to start howling at the wind and hope that it will all morph into predictable overreach and come up with extreme electoral proposals. Which the Italians will step back from. The Populists must try to stay calm despite the indignity and anger. A General Election that proposes leaving the Euro currency or even the EU itself will be defeated and the EU will then be able to say “told you so”. The irritating Italian political problem will have been quelled for the foreseeable future. Clever, and an old well used EU ploy. What the EU must not allow, and will not, is the blunt tool of a referendum. Within the chaos of an energetic General Election driven by resentment and emotion the calm cool EU voice will be a beacon. Project Fear will be rolled out on steroids and the safe haven of the EU will beckon as the Italian moth is drawn to the flame.
To defeat this plan box clever. Highlight the democratic deficit that the EU refuses to close. By all means discuss the fundamental flaws of a Eurozone that is administered principally to benefit Germany. Enthuse your voters, drive the vote but stay sensible on ultimate policy. A nutty manifesto will not attract sufficient monkeys. A coalition government of change will then win again, bigger probably. But the EU will be wise to this, and will provoke if need be, that is when discipline will be needed.
George Soros, who is paying large sums to try to change UK voters’ minds over Brexit said that the EU was upon an existential crisis. Reform was urgently needed so that a EU would appeal to UK voters. That is the new message, from Soros and the EU. Stay with us, come back to us, the change that you want is coming. That will be the second thread that the EU offer up to the Italian voter, there will be no more thin gruel. Porridge with honey all round. The EU have learnt from Brexit, we got the Project Fear stick, but Italy will also get the carrot. The UK is about to be offered the carrot too as project Ref 2 kicks in. I do not believe it, and neither will the Italians.
Left unsupported to deal with huge immigration pressures the Italian voter is weary and wary. No economic growth, none, since ditching the Lira, the benefits of the EU for Italy have been missing. Youth unemployment is through the roof. The EU banking and economic system squeezes the life out of Italy, but it also props up Italian debt. There is the dilemma. A genuine conversation about the pros and cons in a measured way may just be about to start. The EU will hope not, for them chaos wins the day, and it seems to be the Italian way.